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Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Settled with Western Digital for $7.75 Million

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Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Settled with Western Digital for $7.75 Million

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Western Digital Corporation and Technologies recently settled a class action lawsuit involving nearly 2,000 female employees over allegations of unequal pay, promotions, and opportunities based on gender bias.

This disk drive manufacturer and data storage company faced official allegations of sex discrimination against female employees in 2016 when plaintiff Yung-Hui Chen filed a notice with the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency about the discrimination she and other female coworkers experienced.

The allegations in this lawsuit included unequal pay and unfair promotional opportunities.

Chen spoke to her own experience with the company in her original complaint, alleging that she was paid $30,000 less than her male counterparts for performing essentially the same job. She also alleged that similarly situated, less-qualified men were promoted to Senior Manager above her. She cited the lack of female presence in leadership of the company as the reason for these issues of inequality. For example, rather than posting notifications of open positions and allowing for any interested employee to apply, the predominately male leadership at Western Digital allegedly chose to pick and choose which employees they intended to place in those positions, which had a strong tendency toward all-males.

Western Digital was quick to offer a settlement as well as to institute a plan for programmatic relief.

The initial settlement offer for this class action was reportedly filed on the same day as the lawsuit in 2016 and has since been under negotiation. An attorney from the law firm that handled this case pointed out at the conclusion of the class action that this settlement could not have been reached without the cooperation of Western Digital whose haste to make a settlement offer and willingness to cooperate in negotiations led to its final acceptance of $7.5 million on January 8th, 2021. In total, $5 million of the settlement amount is set to be distributed to the 1,863 class members in this lawsuit; these class members will supposedly receive their checks by February 2021. The remaining amounts will be distributed between Chen for representing the class and the legal representatives who worked on the case. Any remainder after that is set to distribute to Community Legal Aid SoCal and Legal Aid at Work.

The settlement includes plans for Western Digital to ensure equal opportunities for women in their company going forward.

These plans for programmatic relief of gender discrimination in the workplace include an increase in the number of women to be hired and promoted to leadership, employee education regarding non-discrimination policies, and a study to be performed on gender equity in pay and promotions within the company. Additionally, Western Digital has agreed to revise its complaint procedures so that employees are more comfortable and successful in coming forward with concerns about potential mistreatment.

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